Access to Education

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Education Helps Break the Poverty Cycle

Children represent the hope and future of the Maya people in Guatemala. Today, in the remote highlands of Guatemala, 75 percent of adult Maya men and 90 percent of adult Maya women can’t read or write. Though public education through elementary school (sixth grade) is compulsory, many of the Maya children do not have the opportunity to finish. Their illiterate, poverty-stricken parents remove their children from school as early as third grade when they have learned a smattering of Spanish. These parents need their Spanish-speaking child to help in the market or work the land.

Amigos de Guatemala is helping to break the cycle by encouraging parents to allow their children to complete grade school. Amigos sponsors children in middle and high school where tuition of $400 to $800 is out of reach for most Mayans. Annual Maya income is about $600.

In 2006 not a single young girl completed elementary school. In 2017, 73% of the 67 students with scholarships for middle school and high school from Amigos are female. Families in the region are seeing the value of education and allowing an increasing number of children to complete sixth grade.

Early graduates of the program now teach Spanish to their parents. One graduate is a middle school teacher teaching English in the school she attended. Another went to an exclusive diesel mechanics school and has a high paying career in an area where few are educated. Amigos de Guatemala is giving hope in an area of the country that saw some of the worst savagery of the Civil War in the 1980s and 1990s.

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